About the UNECE Water Convention
UNECE has to tackle a wide range of water quantity and water quality problems: high water stress and overexploitation of water resources, increasing droughts and floods, contaminated water resulting in water-related diseases, etc.
Attempts at solving these complex problems in Europe are further complicated by the essentially transboundary nature of water resources. More than 150 major rivers and 50 large lakes in the UNECE region run along or straddle the border between two or more countries. Twenty European countries depend for more that 10% of their water resources on neighbouring countries and five countries draw 75% of their resources from upstream countries.
Fortunately, UNECE member States are aware of the need for cooperation if they are to ensure that transboundary waters are used reasonably and equitably. They know that they share the same water resources and rely on each other to apply effective solutions. This positive approach to the problem has been triggered, in no small measure, by the UNECE Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes, which 36 UNECE countries and the European Community have already ratified.
The Convention takes a holistic approach based on the understanding that water resources play an integral part in ecosystems as well as in human societies and economies.
Its commitment to integrated water resources management replaces an earlier focus on localized sources of pollution and management of separate components of the ecosystem.
In 2003, the Water Convention was amended to allow accession by countries outside the UNECE region, thus inviting the rest of the world to use the Convention’s legal framework and to benefit from its experience. Once the amendment enters into force, this will be of particular importance for countries that border the UNECE region, such as Afghanistan, China and the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Full text of the Convention
Unofficial translations*: Portuguese
*The UNECE does not guarantee the accuracy of unofficial translations. Only the original English, French and Russian versions of the text have legal value.
Full text of the amendment English Russian French
Read more about the Convention in the Convention Brochures: New brochure on the Water Convention "The Water Convention ... at your service" with additional information on activities: assessment and climate change